One of my favorite ways to use my free time is volunteering for the community. If you knew me when I was younger, you would know I spent a crazy amount of time volunteering. Really just because I enjoyed helping people and giving back to the community. I was privileged with the time and capability, so it was a no-brainer.
But… as I got older (and got more bills), my time volunteering was cut down to almost nothing. Being dedicated to school and trying to make enough money to support myself took precedence of course. I have tried not to be hard on myself for that change because sometimes other things become essential to do, and where your individual privileges exists can change.
This semester abroad is one of the first times I have had free time outside the classroom. So I made a mental note to myself early on that I would spend some of that free time giving back to a community that was accepting me being there. And as a bonus, Copenhagen has a lot of opportunities that extend their hand for help (particularly to work towards their commitment to sustainability and providing a healthy environment for its people).
The other thing I got to do was help set up Grønt Marked, the local Sunday farmers market. The other volunteers and I spent the morning setting up the tables and tents for the vendors. I know that sounds like a mild job, but those tables were nice sturdy (and heavy) wood tables so it was definitely a morning workout. Throughout the morning, the vendor from the apple farm continually kept giving us little apples to make sure we weren’t hungry (which melted my heart). Once everything was set up, we made and sold little cups of coffee to fundraise for a ‘new’ used van for the market. Despite getting up at the crack of dawn to hike across town, it was such an amazing experience to meet other volunteers, vendors, and people that were so interested in having a place to find fresh and local produce. After my volunteering shift was over, I got to do a little shopping myself (my favorite items I got were rainbow swiss chard and oyster mushrooms).
Being able to volunteer during my semester abroad has already been such a fulfilling experience. Not only does it help the Copenhagen community, but it has helped me feel more at peace with myself. Of course, I know I will have to go back to being a full-time student and employee back home, but I am happy to be in a place now where I can spend time doing these things.